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Baylor under federal Title IX investigation for sexual assault cases

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights made the announcement.

By
Ed Adamczyk
The Baylor University flag is carried on the field after a Baylor Bears touchdown during a Big 12 conference football game on September 29, 2012 in Morgantown, W.Va. Photo by Aspen Photo/Shutterstock
The Baylor University flag is carried on the field after a Baylor Bears touchdown during a Big 12 conference football game on September 29, 2012 in Morgantown, W.Va. Photo by Aspen Photo/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Baylor University is under federal investigation for its handling of possible Title IX violations as they pertain to sexual violence cases, the U.S. Department of Education said.

The agency's Office for Civil Rights announced the investigation of the Waco, Texas, college on Tuesday.

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The probe was initiated by a complaint on Sept. 26 by Patty Crawford, former Baylor Title IX coordinator. She said school officials prevented her from adequately investigating Title IX cases, the name given to a 1972 amendment to a 1965 federal law assuring that no one is "subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance" on the basis of sex.

Crawford resigned Oct. 3 and alleged that unnamed Baylor administrators "made sure they were protecting the [Baylor] brand" instead of students.

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After a 2015 case in which Baylor student and football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexual assault, Baylor hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton to review its policies regarding sexual assault. The review made 105 recommendations for improvement, concluded school administrators discouraged the filing of complaints and noted the Baylor athletic program "hindered enforcement of rules and policies, and created a cultural perception that football was above the rules."

Baylor Chancellor Kenneth Starr was demoted and later resigned, athletic director Ian McCaw was placed on probation before his resignation and football coach Art Briles was fired as a result of the investigation.

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Rogge Dunn, Crawford's lawyer, told ESPN that Crawford increased reports of sexual assaults and sexual violence by 700 percent after her 2014 hiring. In that year, prior to Crawford's arrival as its first full-time dedicated Title IX coordinator, Baylor reported four rapes involving students.

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"I continued to work hard, and the harder I worked, the more resistance I received from senior leadership," Crawford said in an interview with CBS, earlier in October. "That became clear that that was not something the university wanted, and in July, I made it clear and ready that I had concerns and that the university was violating Title IX, and my environment got worse."

The Education Department typically does not identify those who file complaints, but did so Tuesday, with Crawford's consent. Although Baylor is a private college, it accepts students using federal programs for tuition and thus falls under federal mandates.

Baylor said Wednesday it will fully cooperate with the OCR investigation. A press release noted the school's Title IX office has increased in size and resources, and has reviewed its policies and procedures.

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